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King of Individual Awards

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LeBron James has reportedly won a third NBA Most Valuable Player award in just his ninth season.  Impressive?  No doubt.  It puts him in elite company.

Here's the list of players with three or more MVP awards:  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Moses Malone.

As exclusive as that list is, LeBron can claim something that not one of those men can claim:  He's never won a championship.

No, this is not a knock on LeBron James, who might very well win his first NBA title in June.  It's simply a look at the unique nature of his situation.  Here is a man universally considered to be the best basketball player on the planet, and yet, he still has as many rings as any former winner on "The Bachelor."

For the record, I do think LeBron is the league's best player, and quite possibly, the most physically gifted player in NBA history.  But he's entering dangerous territory in terms of legacy.  Dan Marino and Karl Malone know what I'm talking about . . .

Stats and individual awards can make you a great player, but championships make you immortal.  Here's an experiment for you:  Close your eyes and picture LeBron James' defining moment.

What'd you imagine?  The game-winning three-pointer against the Magic?  His heroic effort in the Palace against the Pistons?  Both still led to an early summer vacation.

For all his greatness, LeBron has yet to establish a legacy.  The NBA is full of snapshots.  Jordan over Byron Russell.  Magic's hook shot.  Bird's out of bounds steal.  So while LeBron has a full trophy case, his photo album is still empty.

With Derrick Rose's injury, the Eastern Conference has opened up wide enough for Moses (not Malone) to drive a couple thousand chariots through to the NBA Finals.  Can LeBron do it?  We'll find out.  But I bet I could name seven other MVP's who would be up to the task. . .

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